DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Farmers should begin getting payments soon for land set aside in the Conservation Reserve Program. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says it is sending out checks several weeks late because of the partial government shutdown. About 390,000 farms nationwide have enrolled land in the CRP program covering nearly 27 million acres.
In exchange for an annual rental payment farmers take environmentally sensitive land out of production and plant grass or trees on it to improve water quality, wildlife habitat and prevent erosion. Payments to corn and soybean farmers enrolled in the Average Crop Revenue Election program will begin going out Thursday. The USDA says 1.7 million farms are enrolled in the program, which provides farmers a revenue guarantee based on market prices and average yields for certain commodities.
CARTER LAKE, Iowa (AP) — An Iowa official says there’s no easy solution or quick fix to a persistent algae problem at a lake in western Iowa. Chris Larson with the state Department of Natural Resources told the Carter Lake City Council that unusual weather over the last three years have made it difficult to clean up Carter Lake.
Larson said routine maintenance from the city’s mechanical harvesters may be the best long-term solution for the lake. The Council Bluffs Nonpareil reports that DNR recommended the city begin using harvesters in mid-April or early May. Priority areas for algae removal will be discussed at a later date.
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey says 70 percent of soybeans and 35 percent of corn has been harvested in the state as favorable weather allowed farmers to getting into their fields. The state Agriculture Department says the corn harvest was 15 percentage points behind normal and the soybean harvest was 11 percentage points behind normal.
Pasture conditions also have improved, with 52 percent rated as fair, good or excellent. Statewide, the weather allowed fieldwork on 5.4 days last week. The state based its estimates off statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Is your farmstead pretty enough to be the next “Field of Dreams”? The state is launching an effort to get Iowans to show off properties they’d like to see featured on the silver screen, on T-V or as the backdrop for a catalog shoot. Jeff Morgan, spokesman for the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, explains the campaign. Morgan says, “What we’re looking for is for Iowans who have a home or a property that could be featured in a movie and also if they know of a scenic view or a vista that might be appropriate for a film production to go onto www.produceiowa.com and register and submit their information and photographs.”
It’s free to submit photos to the Media Production Directory, but he says the home or property does have to be within the state of Iowa. Morgan says, “This is actually to build an online media directory that can be available to production companies from California and all around the world 24 hours a day for them to see what Iowa has to offer in terms of site locations.”
It’s not just farmsteads, but any Iowa homes, unique buildings and even entire main streets or downtowns which could be featured. Morgan says, “We’re looking to convention and visitors bureaus, chambers of commerce, homeowners, location scouts who work in Iowa, people from all corners of the state to submit information and photographs.”
Some tips for submitting photos include: use a digital camera, each photo should be no larger than 1MB, title each photograph, 10 total images per property, include distinct features and use a wide-angle lens or landscape view. Besides site locations, Produce Iowa is taking submissions about Iowa’s media production workforce and support service companies. He encourages local talent, production crews and hospitality businesses like hotels, restaurants and caterers to register their services and round out the directory.
ANKENY, Iowa (AP) – Deere & Co. says it will lay off 100 more workers from its plant in Ankeny plant. The Des Moines Register reports that the layoffs are being described as adjustments to meet market demand.
The Moline, Ill.-based maker of farm and construction equipment says it told workers in mid-August that layoffs would take place in mid-September and early November. About 40 plant workers were placed on indefinite layoff in mid-September. Deere spokesman Ken Golden says the 100 or so workers were notified Friday about the layoffs in early November.
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) – A former manager at one of the nation’s largest grain cooperatives has pleaded guilty to accepting $480,000 in bribes from an Iowa farmer in exchange for deep discounts on products. Former West Central Co-Op sales manager Chad Hartzler faces a 51-month prison sentence under the terms of a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
U.S. District Judge Mark Bennett will decide whether to accept the plea deal at Hartlzer’s sentencing hearing, which hasn’t been set. Hartzler was released after pleading guilty to wire fraud during a hearing Thursday in Sioux City. He admitted to taking bribes from Lake View farmer Bill Wollesen starting in 2005. In exchange, he secretly gave Wollesen discounts on crop seed and farm chemicals.
Wollesen has not been charged and he denies the bribery allegations.
The smell of bacon will permeate the campus of Iowa State University tomorrow (Saturday). The first ever ISU Bacon Expo is being held in the courtyard of the Scheman Center. Bacon Expo student co-chair Kristin Liska is a senior at ISU studying animal science, with a minor in journalism. “The idea was founded by our College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Student Council President (Jake Swanson)…bacon is a hot topic right now and it’s just a way to showcase agriculture in general,” Liska says.
Iowa is the top pork producing state in the country. About 30 million hogs are raised in the state each year. Liska says there will be 21 tents filled with vendors and student clubs offering a wide variety of bacon – everything from traditional bacon to bacon cupcakes. “I’ve heard of jalapeño bacon, Cookie’s barbecue bacon, and a maple sugar-pepper bacon that our ISU meat lab is doing,” Liska says.
The event will also include live music and a contest with the theme, “How Do You Wear Your Bacon?” Liska says the Iowa State Fashion Show has “paired” with the expo and will hold a contest with participants given one hour to construct an outfit made out of bacon on a model. The fifteen-hundred (1,500) tickets for the event went on sale September 6 and sold out in two days.
The inaugural ISU Bacon Expo will run from 1-5 p.m. tomorrow. Liska says discussions are already underway for another Bacon Expo next year.
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) – A former manager at one of the nation’s largest grain cooperatives has reached a plea agreement on charges that he accepted $480,000 in bribes from an Iowa farmer in exchange for deep discounts on crop seed. Chad Hartzler, former sales manager at West Central Co-Op in Ralston, is scheduled to appear in federal court in Sioux City for a plea hearing Thursday.
He was charged last week with wire fraud. His attorney, Chris Cooklin, said Wednesday that his client has reached a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the detail of which have been filed under seal. A charging document says Hartzler accepted $480,000 in bribes from 2005 to 2011 from Lake View farmer Bill Wollesen.
Wollesen hasn’t been charged and denies any wrongdoing, saying the payments weren’t bribes.